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California Penal Code 187 PC Murder

What are the elements of 187 Murder?

Under California Penal Code section 187 PC, it prohibits an unlawful killing of a human being or fetus with malice aforethought.  Malice aforethought is the same thing as acting with a premeditated intent to kill or extreme indifference to human life. While this may seem easy to follow, there are terms that require further explanation.

 Unlawful Killing:

A homicide refers to the killing of another person, be it lawful or unlawful. Consequently, a homicide includes murder, manslaughter, as well as justifiable killings.

“Murder” is the most serious type of homicide. It is always unlawful. What differentiates murder from manslaughter in California is the fact that malice is necessarily involved in a murder.

Malice Aforethought:

Under California 187 PC (a), malice may be implied or express.

Implied malice occurs when: (a) The killing occurred due to an intentional act; (b) The natural consequences of the act are dangerous to human life; and (c) The act was deliberately performed with knowledge of the danger to, and with conscious disregard for, human life. Both first- and second-degree murder require malice.  There are other types of murder that may apply to your specific situation and they are:

  • First- Degree Murder
  • Second-Degree Murder
  • Voluntary Manslaughter
  • “Heat of Passion” and
  • Involuntary Manslaughter.

California Penal Code 187 PC Murder

Legal Consequences:

First Degree Murder: Every person guilty of murder in the first degree shall be punished by death, imprisonment in the state prison for life without the possibility of parole, or imprisonment in the state prison for a term of 25 years to life.

  • Hate Crime: If the murder was a “hate crime” meaning, a crime committed based on the victim’s race, religion, gender, disability, sexual orientation, or nationality, the defendant will face a prison sentence for life without the possibility of parole.
  • Second Degree Murder: every person guilty of murder in the second degree shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison for a term of 15 years to life.
  • Killing a Peace Officer: every person guilty of murder in the second degree shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison for a term of 25 years to life if the victim was a peace officer if the circumstances meet the requirements under this section. 
  • Shooting Out of a Vehicle: every person guilty of murder in the second degree shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison for a term of 20 years to life if he/she killed the victim by shooting a firearm out of a vehicle with the intent of causing serious injury.
  • Prior Murder Conviction: every person guilty of murder in the second degree shall be punished by imprisonment for life without the possibility of parole if he/she has previously served a sentence for a murder conviction. 

How can we  defend you against charges of California Penal Code 187 PC Murder?

There are several defenses that your attorney may assert on your behalf to fight a murder charge. Here are the most common, but not all, defenses:

  • Self-Defense/Defense of Others
  • Accidental Killing
  • The Insanity Defense
  • Mistaken Identity 

There are several defenses that your attorney can assert on your behalf to fight a charge of murder.

California Penal Code 187 PC Murder

Contact us:

We have been successfully defending clients facing all types of criminal charges in Sonoma and Marin Counties, since 1992.

The 100 Trial Lawyers Association has recognized us as one of the best criminal defense attorneys in the country!

Please call our office today at (707) 571-8600 in our centrally located Santa Rosa office in Sonoma County or call our office in San Rafael in Marin County at (415) 492-4507 to schedule a free and confidential case evaluation.

Don’t bargain with your freedom! The right attorney makes all the difference between your freedom and incarceration!

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